Apr 9, 2010

News Roundup: March 27 - April 2

HUD Kicks Off Fair Housing Month Declaring 2010 a "Time to Act"
In an April 1st press release, HUD highlighted its achievements from last year and proclaimed its continuing commitment to ensure Fair Housing for all in the year to come.

“Discrimination based on how you look, the religion you practice, or because you have children or are disabled is illegal and unacceptable,” said John TrasviƱa, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at HUD. “In the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April 1968, President Johnson moved for passage of the Fair Housing Act to bring the nation forward and together. Since then, we have made progress but there remains work to be done. It is time to act.” (Full Press Release Here)

Massachusetts AG Obtains Consent Judgment on Craigslist Advertisements
The judgment resolves allegations that a landlord made discriminatory statements in rental advertisements posted on Craigslist for including the phrase "no section 8." Such language violates the "source of income" provision in Massachusetts Fair Housing Statute, a provision notably absent from the Federal Fair Housing Act.

The case is "the result of a continuing statewide investigation by the Attorney General’s Office into reports of widespread discriminatory housing advertisements on the Internet." On October 28, 2009, the Attorney General’s Office reached 20 settlements and filed six complaints against landlords and real estate agents across the Commonwealth accused of violating state anti-discrimination laws on Craigslist.

“As more families face tough financial times and have no choice but to rent, landlords and real estate professionals must recognize that the rental market is a regulated industry and compliance with our anti-discrimination laws is an important obligation,” said Attorney General Coakley. “While we hope that this enforcement initiative will have a deterrent effect, our office will continue to monitor Craigslist and take action against persons and entities that violate the law.” (Full Press Release Here)

Are Emotional Support Dogs Protected by the FHA?
As is clear from the HUD press release, service dogs assisting persons with disabilities are usually covered by the FHA under the reasonable accommodation provision. Less clear however, is whether the FHA will protect residents from being forced to give up "emotional support" animals when private housing rules place limitations on pet ownership.

In Harford County Maryland, a father and daughter are fighting a condo association's determination that they must find another home for their dog because it exceeds the one dog only policy. The second dog, Jack, came into the family to assist the mother during her last few months to live while suffering from stage 4 colon cancer.

While such a case might seem to elicit sympathy, whether such circumstances demand the force of law seems unlikely. (Full Article Here)

JMLS to Host Fair Housing Law Program on April 16 and 17
The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center is presenting the program "Fair Housing Law and Enforcement: A Basic Survey of the Law and Practice."

The cost is $300 and Attorneys can receive 10 CLE credits. To register contact Maria Chavez at (312) 427-9438 or mchavez@jmls.edu. (Full News-brief Here)